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Host a sizzling Lights On event: A pitch contest

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Host a sizzling Lights On event: A pitch contest

By Liz Nusken,Young Entrepreneur Pitch program lead at the Ohio Afterschool Network.

Lights On Afterschool presents afterschool programs with an opportunity to showcase their fun, hands-on learning experiences to partners and members of the larger community.

A Lights On live pitch contest, à la Shark Tank, is the culmination of a unit on entrepreneurship and an exciting, authentic opportunity to invite business leaders, chamber of commerce members, and civic leaders into your program.

Teaching students about entrepreneurship and planning a pitch contest is easy using one of the many high-quality curricula available, such as the Young Entrepreneur Institute’s Young Entrepreneur Pitch (YEP) free K-12 toolkit.

The entrepreneurial mindset is essential for not only those who own their own businesses but encompasses skills like problem-solving, communication, agency, and creativity, which are invaluable for success in school, family, and the workforce.

The YEP toolkit features four 45-minute lessons with additional curricula from organizations, like Venture Lab, for those who want to delve deeper into the topic of entrepreneurship. Lessons can be facilitated once weekly for four weeks, or daily over the course of a week or longer.

The YEP curriculum is easy for staff to use, even for those without entrepreneurial experience. Local entrepreneurs can be invited to speak to students about their own journeys to entrepreneurship. Guest speakers bring a deeper understanding to students of their own communities, provide examples of adults who have persevered through challenges, and inspire students to consider becoming entrepreneurs. Additionally, bringing in community leaders as guest speakers allows afterschool programs to build an understanding of and appreciation for their programs among community decision-makers and can create champions for the students and program.

Representatives from district leadership, school board members, business groups that advise school districts, city and county elected officials, chambers of commerce, business incubator organizations, local TV, radio and print media celebrities are fitting pitch challenge moderators and judges. Additionally, pitch contests are an exciting venue in which program staff, teachers, parents, and other students can encourage and cheer-on students as they make their pitches.

Pitch contests are newsworthy events and can attract the media. Youngstown Ohio’s Heart Reach Neighborhood Ministries attracted two different news teams to report on its summer pitch contest, including this news story!

Afterschool programs are encouraged to begin planning 4-6 weeks in advance to allow time to extend invitations to guest speakers, moderators and judges and ask for donations of prizes for pitch contest winners. The YEP toolkit includes many planning tools, including a timeline for both planning the educational content as well as the pitch contest itself.

To learn more about Young Entrepreneur Pitch and hosting a Lights On live pitch contest, or to register for a free 30-minute informational Lights On Afterschool Pitch Contest webinar, contact Kelly Biggar at the Young Entrepreneur Institute, yepitch@us.edu.

 

The Ohio Afterschool Network is partnering with Young Entrepreneur Institute, with support from the C. S. Mott Foundation, to encourage Ohio’s afterschool and summer programs to introduce children and youth entrepreneurship.

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